Want Better SAT Scores? // Try Family Meals

All parents want their children to do well in school. When it comes to moving onto higher education, high school students have to take the ACT or SAT. Some students take the test more than once to try to raise their score. Others do practice tests online or attend classes designed to prepare them for success on the test. I received an email today that pointed to another key to success on the test: Family Dinners.

Tim Elmore of Growing Leaders referenced a couple of studies which show the impact of families having regular meals together. At one point in the post Elmore wrote this: “Students who enjoyed talking over a meal with family members also enjoyed rising scores on standardized tests.”

I did some quick googling about family meals and while there are other factors at work, the general consensus from research is that there is benefit from families that have regular meal times together.

While studying for tests is a plus and there is value in taking prep courses, there is also merit to regular family meals. A study from Cornell University said, “Most studies have found that medium and high levels (i.e., 3 or more days per week) of frequent meals yield the most positive benefits for children.”

The Cornell study concluded with three suggestions:

1. Set a goal to have regular family meals at least three times per week, if possible.

2. Remember the benefits of consistent family mealtimes

3. Don’t forget, quality of family meals is just as important as quantity.

The research on family meals shows that regular family meals impact relationships within the family, increase academic achievement, help with overall health and nutrition among other things. Take some time during the week to sit together with your family and share a meal. While juggling busy schedules can be a challenge, regular meal times show a lot of benefit.

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Support our Mexico Spring Break Trip // Buy a Shirt

Over Spring Break this school year (March 26-30, 2018) we will be taking a group to Rocky Point, Mexico, to build a house with 1MISSION. 1MISSION is a community development organization giving people living in poverty the opportunity to earn a house by serving their community. Individuals serve over 200 hours in their community to earn a home. We took a group over Spring Break in 2016 and look forward to returning in ’18.

The current projected cost for each individual to go on the trip is just over $1,000.  To help underwrite some of the expenses for our group, we are making available shirts designed just for this project.

We have two different shirt designs you can view by clicking here.

One is a Short Sleeve shirt and the color is heather clay.  The cost of the short sleeve shirt is $15

Please note:  the short sleeve shirts are “Soft Shirts.” They are a tad less generous of a fit than a normal t-shirt. They’re a nicer, softer t-shirt… but if you are between two sizes it is suggested you choose the larger size.

Long Sleeve shirt and the color is charcoal black. The cost of the long sleeve shirt is $20.

Both shirts have the same design on the front, which says BUILD HOPE, 1MISSION Mexico 2018

If we sell 25 of each shirt, $6 from each shirt (40%) will go toward our trip to Mexico.  Orders will be taken through the month of December. Shirts will be available mid-January.

If you are a member/attendee of our church in Wilmington or live in the area, we will have hard copies of order forms available at our IMPACT Student Kiosk in our KidCity Lobby.

We do have an online order form where you can place orders for shirts.  We currently do not have a way to pay online.  Payment can be made by cash or check (checks can be made payable to “Ministers Fund.”)

If you live outside of Wilmington, contact me and we can see about shipping a shirt to you.  We will add a few bucks on for shipping.

Shirts were designed by Fund the Nations, a company created in February of 2008 with the desire to help others fulfill the Great Commission (take the Gospel around the world) by providing them with a great fundraiser.  Check out their Instagram account for samples of their other designs.

We are looking forward to our trip to Mexico and serving with a family.  Your purchase of a shirt will help support our adventure!

What the Kingdom of God Looks Like

For the past few weeks, even months, I find myself being brought back to the Kingdom of God. Through things I hear or read or watch, the phrase keeps popping up.

I think before when someone said the words “the kingdom of God,” it conjured images of pearly gates and streets of gold and the reality of what things will be like after this life is over.

However, I see and hear a lot more discussion about living in the kingdom now, living as a citizen of the kingdom in the present and seeing God’s kingdom as both something that is to come and something that is.  Our students have been a part of events that encourage them to be “kingdom workers.”

Just this week I received a link to a blog post on YouthMinistry.com that talked about what the Kingdom of God looks like when life hurts. The entire article is good, but I like how the authors described the kingdom today.

The Kingdom of God is like . . .

  • The middle schooler who makes space for a not-so-cool classmate at her lunch table because she remembers the day when Jesus made space for her in his Kingdom.
  • A high schooler who opts out of the “party of the year” because he trusts that Jesus’ plans for his life are better than his friends’ plans.
  • One college student who risks getting a lower grade for sharing her worldview in her coursework.
  • The young couple who has little money but gives each other small Christmas gifts so they can give presents to children in the foster-care system.
  • Divorced parents who choose to co-parent their teenagers from a place of grace and forgiveness because they’ve experienced grace and forgiveness from Jesus.
  • A retired couple who finds joy in serving Jesus daily because they understand that no one ever “retires” from following him.

Some good thoughts for us to think about what it looks like to live as a citizen of the kingdom.  Maybe it looks like something from the list above. Maybe it’s totally different. How do we live as citizens of the kingdom now?

Whisper // Mark Batterson

“God wants us to hear what He’s saying and we must heed His voice. So He whispers softer and softer so that we have to get closer and closer. And when we finally get close enough, He envelops us in His arms & tells us that He loves us.”

Mark Batterson concludes his new book, Whisper, with what might be considered the thesis statement for this writing: because God loves us, He wants to communicate with us and He does that through whispers.

Throughout Whisper Batterson underscores the thought that God desires to communicate with His people and highlights seven languages that God uses: Scripture, Desires, Doors, Dreams, People, Promptings and Pain.

I appreciated that he continually pointed back to scripture as the means to interpret the other voices God uses.  Some might raise concerns when you speak of dreams or desires or looking for open or closed doors.  While God certainly can (and has) used other voices to speak to His people, He has given us His Word to be our guide.  As Batterson said in one chapter, “. . .we don’t interpret Scripture via signs; we interpret signs via Scripture.”  In another he reminded readers, “God-given dreams won’t contradict scripture.”

Through his own experience in ministry and through the stories of others, Batterson shows how God uses the other voices to whisper to His people.  One particular voice that I wrote about in a previous post is how God uses doors to speak to us.  This phrase stuck with me: “We put a period where God puts a comma.”  His comment that we interpret a closed-door from God to be a “no” when perhaps what God is saying is “not yet” was a good reminder.  He also said that sometimes we have to walk through several doors to get to where God really wants us to be.

Whisper points readers to listen to the voice of God.  The foundation of the book is that because God loves us, He wants to speak to us.  We need to be listening.  Batterson’s book is a good tool to help us do just that.

 

#WORLDADOPTIONDAY is Nov 9

You are invited to join us in celebrating #WorldAdoptionDay this year. It is a day to globally celebrate families created through adoption and all those who are touched by adoption.

For the past 4 years, people around the world have put a smiley face on their hand and posted it on social media with #WorldAdoptionDay.

We’ve seen people participate from multiple countries, host events all around the world, and influencers like Ellen DeGeneres, Shaquille O’Neal, Ernie Johnson Jr, Shonda Rhimes, Connie Britton and more participate.

I’d like to personally invite you to join us this year! Draw a smiley face on your hand and post a selfie on your social media account with #WorldAdoptionDay.

It’s easy, kind of fun and a great way to support a growing movement of celebrate the beauty of adoption. So, grab your sharpie and plan to post your smiley hand for #WorldAdoptionDay.

Putting a Period Where God Puts a Comma

A couple of weeks ago I received a review copy of Mark Batterson’s new book, Whisper. I’ve had the opportunity to read several of his books including The Circle Maker. Any of his books that I have read have proved helpful.  While I still need to finish Whisper, there have been a number of things I’ve highlighted and earmarked.

The subtitle of the book is How to Hear the Voice of God and Batterson writes about different voices that God uses to speak to us.

In one particular chapter I read this phrase: We put a period where God puts a comma.  Batterson is writing about doors that God opens and closes as we seek to know what He wants us to do.  He remarks that we interpret a closed-door from God to be a “no” when perhaps what God is saying is “not yet.”

As I read this particular chapter, I thought about our adoption experience.  Like many, we’ve had a number of starts and stops on the way (I’ve shared some of our experience in previous posts.)  We actually waited close to two years between potential adoptions.  Our son Eli is four and a half months old as I write this and we weren’t sure God wanted us to adopt again.  We had a feeling that perhaps that door was marked “closed.”

As it turns out, God was just saying, “Not yet.”  Things fell into place at the right time and we have added another little boy to our family.

Back to the chapter from Whisper, I think we were interpreting a “no” instead of a “not yet.”  Perhaps Batterson’s insight a page later in the chapter described us fairly well:  “Simply put, we want what we want when we want it, and usually we want it now.”

While there is no formula for hearing the voice of God, this chapter was a good reminder that what we perceive as a closed-door could be more of a delay than shut forever.  Because while most of us are by nature impatient, it may be that God is waiting for a better time or better situation or even a better us.

As I was looking back at the posts regarding our son’s adoption, I ran across this quote:  What God originates He orchestrates.

I think we are always learning how to understand and hear the voice of God.  No one has it perfected.  In the process this chapter was a good reminder to me that listening at times means waiting.

Granted, sometimes God tells us, “No,” – just like we do with our children – but there is also the potential for God saying, “Not yet.” Because He sees more, knows more and in control, we need to keep our ear tuned to Him.

When He does open the door, it can be a beautiful thing.